Robert Kagan’s major weapon is to tell a seemingly attractive but entirely false story about American history. He and other neocons are at it again. They claim that a U.S. based international order is the basis for post-World War II prosperity, and therefore that more American power and extending that power overseas is the best path to assure its continuance. This is all myth and it is false myth.
Their major recommendation: “The proper course is to extend American power and U.S. leadership in Asia, Europe, and the Greater Middle East…”
What hath previous such international extensions of American power wrought? They brought on American participation in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and the Afghanistan War. Every one of these wars shifted resources from the production of goods into the production of war goods, useful only for destruction of human beings and hard-won capital. These wars restrained, prevented and postponed what would have been much higher peacetime production possibilities. International extension helped bring on the Great Depression, foster terrorism here and abroad, and drastically punish savers by reducing the dollar’s purchasing power. Growth of a police and surveillance state and of a heavily regulated economy are further spinoffs of America’s insistence on expanding its power overseas.
If this neocon “proper course” is followed, what are its targets? The neocons trot out Russia, China, Syria, ISIS, North Korea, terrorism and Iran. South America and Africa are not ignored as sites for further extension. Does prosperity in America really depend upon confronting Russia and China, or will that policy of extension and expansion once again produce new and futile American wars, new risks of nuclear holocausts, new arms races, and new diversions of American efforts and capital to useless and dangerous endeavors?
Post World War II prosperity owes to a large shift away from government controls over the economy and away from a large share of government in the economy. To what? To a much more free market economy and to an economy in which the private sector again assumed the main role in deciding on investment. (See here.) The breakdown of any official relation of gold to the dollar occurred during an inflation associated with the Vietnam War and the increasing socialization of the economy.
Contrary to the neocon story, since 1975, the prosperity has gradually turned into stagnation; some major income and demographic groups have seen decades of stagnation. This has accompanied the policies endorsed by the neocons, policies that call for ever-expanding military spending and ever-expanding government size and power generally. They are still saying “An urgent first step is to significantly increase U.S. national security and defense spending and eliminate the budgetary strait-jacket of the Budget Control Act.” Yes, they wantunlimited military spending! Between guns and butter, their choice is guns. Why not have Americans pay $1 million a year to support each soldier in some foreign land, and not for purposes of tourism either?
The neocons live in a fantasy world in which they make up a false history to suit their devilish plans. In this new document, there is no analysis of war failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The neocons contributed heavily to these failures. Their cop-out is to mention ISIS and refugees in the context of Iraq and then to dismiss these regions as they go in search of larger demons like Russia and China. Here are their cowardly weasel words:
“Policymakers have spent much of the last 10 years understandably focused on the conflicts and challenges arising out of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although we have no doubt that greater efforts are needed to ensure the security and stability of both Iraq and Afghanistan, we have chosen to focus on other high priority areas that have not been given as much attention in recent times.”
And that’s it for these multi-trillion dollar debacles!
Similarly, the Libyan debacle comes in for no analysis. The neocons cannot possibly blame themselves or the policies they are again recommending. Apart from a minor comment about Germany and Libya, they say of Libya only this: “[ISIS] has also established new footholds in a number of other countries, most significantly in Libya.”
Neocon history is as false in its omissions as it is in its commissions.